Accenture $17.6 million contract with Department of Home Affairs cut short

14 June 2018 3 min. read

A contract which Accenture Australia held with the Department of Home Affairs was terminated a year before the deadline, according to new information released in a report by the Australian National Audit Office. 

Ongoing revelations about the way the Department of Home Affairs reviews the efficiency of consulting work hasbrought to light the premature termination of an Accenture-held contract. 

The contract, worth $17.6 million, was held by Accenture for the portfolio reform task-force in relation to the merging of Border Protection and Australian Customs, and the Department of Immigration for the creation of the overarching Australian Border Force. 

The new US style super-department – akin to the American Department of Homeland Security – has come under increasing criticism recently for a high turnover of consultants and lack of oversight from the department itself. 

The merger of the two departments was citied as a major cost-cutting move for the government with the aim of eradicating cross-departmental bureaucracy and the double-up of duties. 

The purported savings however have been overshadowed by the blowout of spending on outsourcing. The department has been dealt a blow by the audit office report which highlighted the consultancy spend and the fact that the department only evaluated 6% of the contracts in relation to the merger, adding up to almost $1 billion in total.  

“With the creation of the Home Affairs portfolio ... the department’s information holdings will increase further,” the report stated. “Unless urgent and significant action is taken to address the record keeping problems and issues which have previously been repeatedly identified, the ANAO continues to consider that there is a risk to the department’s core functions.”

Accenture $17.6 million contract with Department of Home Affairs cut short

The Accenture contract was said to have been cut short by the department due to the fact that Border Force was not satisfied with the performance of the firm, according to the report. Both the firm and the department have denied the accusation, forwarding that the contract ended early due to the firm completing its obligated duties prior to the termination date.

An Accenture spokesperson said: “Due to contractual obligations we are not in a position to discuss our work with the Department of Home Affairs.” She continued by saying that the contract ended “due to the service no longer being required for the entire contract term. The services required were delivered prior to termination".

However, it was written within the report that the contract was terminated as the department was not satisfied with the performance of Accenture. The contract was “terminated for convenience on the 30 June 2015 at the end of the first of a two year contract. By that time, $17.1 million (97.1%) of the contract’s value had been paid,” the report stated. 

The Accenture contract was one of two contracts terminated, the second being a $2 million anonymous contract for management advisory services. According to the report, the audit department “found evidence that suggested that the department had not been satisfied with the performance of two consultancies [but] despite this, neither of these consultancies had been evaluated.”

Since the date of termination, Accenture have received an additional 21 contracts with the department worth over $20 million. The firm is currently involved in the bidding for an open tender to digitalise Australia’s visa application system which closes in July.  

Under the Federal Government’s plan, Australia’s outdated and manual visa system would receive an overhaul, seeing automation across a number of functions. The digital strategy and management consulting firm is an industry leader in automation and AI technologies and is a frontrunner for the multi-billion dollar project.